A Misplaced Sense of Pride

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, polymath, inventor, scientist, writer, diplomat, etc., etc., Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790) observed that “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” An analogous statement about nations could be that all nations are born poor but it requires hard work to keep it in poverty. Not surprisingly that hard work is properly done by the politicians of poor countries. What’s surprising is the evident pride they appear to take in their dismal accomplishment. They obviously revel in the fact that the country is poor and proclaim it loudly for all to marvel at. A recent statement on twitter (image below) by the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, retweeted over 1500 time no doubt approvingly by Indians, brought this to mind.
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Charity should be voluntary, not coerced

All actions of a just society should be principles-based. One of the primary guiding principles of a just society is that coercion is kept at a minimum. That is, people should be free of coercion from others, including the government. Certainly, a case can be made for why there will have to be some coercion — but that has to be reserved for matters that are essential for the functioning of society. For these matters, government coercion is justified for raising revenues required for funding certain activities. Examples of such matters are policing (to maintain law and order) and the provisioning of collective goods such as public access roads or sanitation, etc. Aside from those limited exemptions, coercion is not justified.
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Charlie Munger on Costco

I am a fierce Costco loyalist. I have been a card-carrying member of Costco for over 20 years, and have bought tens of thousands bucks worth of stuff from the store. It is somewhat comical this habit of mine: to my friends and acquaintances, I keep insisting that they get a Costco membership and buy stuff there. There’s something about Costco that warms the cockles of this economist’s heart. I end up going to Costco about twice a week at least. And since there’s one within a 12-minute walk — less than a mile — of where I live, I sometimes go there just for a slice of pizza. Did you know that Costco is the largest pizza retailer in the US?
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Fermi’s Martians

Enrico Fermi (1901 – 1954), the Italian-American physicist, Nobel laureate, etc etc, asked the famous question “Where are they?” That question became known as the Fermi paradox. The universe should be teeming with life. But the striking lack of any evidence of extraterrestrials is puzzling. Where are they?
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